Do you have second ‘brain’ in your colon?

| | June 11, 2018
colon
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

You’re reading these words because you have a brain in your head. But did you know you also have a brain in your butt? OK, not a literal brain — more of an autonomous matrix of millions of neurons that can, somehow, control intestinal muscle movements without any help from your central nervous system.

Scientists call this site of colon intelligence your enteric nervous system, and because it can function without instructions from the brain or spine, some scientists like to call it your “second brain.” How smart is this autonomous, intestinal brain? Scientists don’t know for sure yet. But according to a new study in mice, published May 29 in the journal JNeurosci, the answer might be pretty smart for an intestine.

Related article:  Medieval graves yield genetic clues about kinship of Germanic warrior family

When the researchers stimulated isolated mouse colons with mild electric shocks, they saw “a novel pattern of rhythmic coordinated neuronal firing” that corresponded directly to muscle movements in nearby sections of the large intestine.

These rhythmic, synchronized blasts of neuron activity likely help to stimulate specific sections of intestinal muscles at a standard rate.

Because some scientists hypothesize the enteric nervous system actually evolved before the central nervous system, the neuron firing pattern in your colon might represent the earliest functioning brain in your body.

Read full, original post: You May Have a ‘Second Brain’ in Your Butt… And It’s Smarter Than You Think

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
sperm swim

Video: Sperm are ‘spinners not swimmers’—because they are lopsided

Research by fertility scientists in the UK and Mexico challenges the accepted view of how sperm “swim”, suggesting that it ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
biotechnology worker x

Can GMOs rescue threatened plants and crops?

Some scientists and ecologists argue that humans are in the midst of an "extinction crisis" — the sixth wave of ...
food globe x

Are GMOs necessary to feed the world?

Experts estimate that agricultural production needs to roughly double in the coming decades. How can that be achieved? ...
eating gmo corn on the cob x

Are GMOs safe?

In 2015, 15 scientists and activists issued a statement, "No Scientific consensus on GMO safety," in the journal Environmental Sciences ...
Screen Shot at PM

Charles Benbrook: Agricultural economist and consultant for the organic industry and anti-biotechnology advocacy groups

Independent scientists rip Benbrook's co-authored commentary in New England Journal calling for reassessment of dangers of all GMO crops and herbicides ...
Screen Shot at PM

ETC Group: ‘Extreme’ biotechnology critic campaigns against synthetic biology and other forms of ‘extreme genetic engineering’

The ETC Group is an international environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada whose stated purpose is to monitor "the impact of emerging technologies and ...
Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend